Fri, 06 Dec 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to press on with the development of a weapon that has been at the center of a deadly nuclear accident in August.

'We will certainly be perfecting this weapon regardless of anything,' Putin told a November 21 ceremony at the Kremlin to present posthumous awards to the families of the victims, saying the weapons system meant to ensure Russia's sovereignty and security 'for decades ahead.'

At least five people died, including nuclear engineers, when a rocket engine exploded at a naval test site on the coast of the White Sea, Russian officials say.

In remarks broadcast by state television on November 22, Putin told the widows of those killed that the 'technical ideas and solutions' involved in the project were 'without an equivalent in the world."

'Simply possessing these unique technologies is the most important, solid guarantee of peace on the planet,' he added, without specifying what weapon had been involved in the incident.

The August 8 explosion occurred at the Nyonoksa missile-testing site, sending a plume of radiation wafting over the port of Severodvinsk, located about 50 kilometers away.

It was followed by contradictory statements from local and federal government officials in Russia about the nature of the explosion and the danger it posed to local residents.

A State Department official in October said the United States concluded that the explosion occurred amid an operation to recover a nuclear-powered missile that had apparently crashed during a test.

The incident came amid tensions between Moscow, Washington, and U.S. allies following the demise of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty that has sparked fears of a growing arms race.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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